I LOVE Christmas time!  

It is one of my favourite times of the year.  Despite all the busyness and stress this time of year brings, I love it.  I love the joy of little children seeing the lights and decorations.  I love buying gifts for others.  I love spending time with loved ones, eating and drinking too much. I love seeing the kids play with their friends.  I love roast turkey.  I love Christmas t-shirts.  I love all the decorations and I especially love houses that decorate with lights.  I love the carols.  I love shopping.  I love watching  Love Actually while wrapping up presents.  I love everything about it! 

One of the things that I think makes Christmas time so beautiful is having family traditions. We have some beautiful traditions that I have grown to love more and more each year.  

We start off with the tree decorating day, usually around the beginning of December.  This year we did it on the last weekend of November, because our six year old son was super excited and couldn’t wait until 1 December!  We (I!) put on carols and we set up the tree, then all decorate it together.  There’s a special order we do things in, and I love that my dear husband participates with the kids and I (even though I secretly suspect it might not be one of his favourite jobs to do).  Our son takes great pride in his very special job – putting the star on top of the tree.  I’m not sure what we are going to do next year when our daughter understands a bit more and wants to do it too.  We will have to find her a very special job too!  I love when the kids are little and the tree goes up.  Our daughter is coming up to 20 months of age and she was so in awe of the tree this year.  Each time we would come upstairs to the living room, she would stop, look at the tree and say “WOW!!”  I love the magic that Christmas brings out for the children.  There is so much hope and joy for them. 

This is us just after we finished putting the tree up this year.  How hard is it to get a photo of everyone looking at the camera at the same time!!! 

My husband spends a great deal of time each year decorating our house and front yard with Christmas lights.  Compared to some houses with their laser light shows and blow up Santas, ours is a modest display, but I think looks amazing and magical.  Each night before bed, the kids ask to see the lights, and this year there is always another “wow” as our daughter notices the lights switch on just before her bedtime.  

We love the Christmas lights so much that we always have (at least) one night each December where we let the kids stay up late and go for a drive to check out the beautiful light displays.  I am always amazed at the effort that goes in to making the houses shine so bright.  What I love most is that it is always done to bring joy to others. 

Another tradition we started the year our son was born was to have a family photo with Santa.  I love looking back over the old photos, seeing how much our son has grown each year.  And now our daughter too.  Last year I started a new tradition with the Santa photos, which I give a huge gold star to my husband for.  I love Christmas t-shirts, and we all have at least one that we have to wear to our annual Christmas dinner with friends.  I managed to convince everyone to dress in their Christmas attire for our Santa photo.  My husband was embarrassed, because we have our photo in a busy shopping centre.  But he did it, and I know he only did it for me.  So gold star to you dear husband.  It must be almost time to get that shirt out again  😉 

75 Family-Friendly Elf on the Shelf Ideas | Skinny Mom | Tips for Moms | Fitness | Food | Fashion | Family: Now every parent among us knows that the lead up to Christmas is busy and tiring for little people. We also know that it is a great time of year to try out different behaviour management techniques with our children.  It is amazing how a quick “Santa’s watching” or “Do you want me to ring Santa and tell him what you are doing?” can change a child’s behaviour and prevent a tantrum (most times)!  A few years ago we had the privilege of receiving an Elf on the Shelf.  Santa sent us a special elf, who our son named “Magic Sparkle Girl” who has the job each day of watching the children’s behaviour. Each night once everyone is in bed, she flies back to the North Pole and reports to Santa if we are on the Naughty or Nice list.  Sometimes she brings letters back from Santa for the kids, sometimes chocolates, and each morning she is in a different spot in the house, doing something different.  It is great fun to watch the kids try and find her each morning, I am so glad that Santa sent her to us.  

Each year, the lead up for Christmas is also a little difficult for me.  The 18th of December is the date that our second little boy, Daniel, was due to be born.  I hate the little Hannah and Daniel are not with us to share each Christmas, but we have found a way to remember them and incorporate them into our traditions each year.  My oldest dearest friend bought us two silver angels to go on our tree, which we put just under the star each year.  Also, on Daniel’s “birthday”, my husband, kids and I go shopping and buy a gift each for Hannah and Daniel.  We buy something appropriate for the age the kids would have been this year, and put it under the giving tree for them.  I like that this reminds our two living children about their brother and sister in heaven, but also teaches them about giving to others too.  I always get a bit emotional when we put the presents under the tree as I feel the emptiness in my arms and heaviness in my heart for them. But it makes me happy that they are included in our Christmas each year.    

There are a number of traditional social gatherings that we look forward to each year.  One of my favourites (and there are many others) is our Christmas dinner with one of my two best friends and her family.  We have been doing these dinners for as long as I can remember, and I know that her daughters look forward to it just as much as we all do.  We exchange gifts, have a traditional turkey roast, and relax and enjoy each other’s company.  I have loved these past few years especially, watching a second generation of friendships bloom between our kids. Our children love playing together, her two older girls indulging my younger kids in whatever games they have made up that day.  Even though some years, like this one, our catch up might be slightly after Christmas, it is one of the things I look forward to most about this season.  

These are just some of the things that make the lead up to Christmas each year so special in our house.  All of them are really about being with my family and connecting to them and to others that we love.  What do you do in your family to make this time of year special?  

This year, like every year, we are super busy during December.  We have so many extra social engagements, school events etc that take up our precious time together. This week there is an extra special treat for us this year.  My Aunty and cousin have come down for a week and we are going to have an early Christmas with them while they are here.  More than that though, I am really looking forward to slowing down, spending time with them, and not running around like a crazy woman!  I think that I might make this part of a new tradition – allowing myself a quieter week each year where nothing extra is scheduled, so the kids and I can calm down, get some rest and reenergise before the actual day is here.  It might mean that I have to start getting organised a lot sooner than I normally do, but I think it will be worth the effort.   

I would really love to hear about what traditions you have for Christmas.  I find it so interesting seeing how different families do things differently.  Please comment below or share on the Creative Calm Connected Facebook page.  

Until next time, 
E xx